Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The replacement HE01 cooler works fine...phew!

DIP4_2014-07-24_20-28-37When I got the replacement cooler from Amazon, the first thing I did was to plug the fan directly into the power supply. When you do that, the expected result is for the fan to spin up at full speed - that is at 2000RPM. I made sure that the RPM limiter switch was switched to the performance mode as well. To my relief, the fan seemed to run at full speed though there was no way to confirm that the fan was hitting 2000RPM. But it definitely felt like 2000RPM, for the sound and the air flow generated from it.

But I wouldn't be running the fan directly off the PSU. I would be running it off the motherboard CPU fan headers. It wouldn’t mean squat if it cannot work with the motherboard. So to find out if if the motherboard truly wasn’t the culprit the last time, I plugged in the fan to the motherboard and luckily for me, it also ran at full speed. w00t!

There was no way in hell that I would be running the fan at 2000RPM. While it is not as deafening as the two TY-143’s I had on the Silver Arrow Extreme cooler, I still had to tame down the fan speed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Silverstone FHP-141 on my HE01 got stuck at 500RPM

HE01

It is the weirdest thing that I have ever encountered.

Couple of days before I ordered the Maximus VII Gene motherboard, I ordered the Silverstone Heligon HE01 CPU cooler. The cooler worked pretty well on my old Maximus VI Hero motherboard. I had the fan on the CPU fan header and just used the automatic fan control settings in the UEFI.

But when I installed the cooler on the new motherboard, the fan stopped working properly. When I say "stopped working properly", I mean that the fan did not want to rev past 500RPM. The fan is supposed to rev up to 2000RPM at its maximum PWM signal strength. What's so special about 500RPM figure is that it is the lowest RPM that the fan can operate using the PWM signal.

I blamed the motherboard at first. That was the obvious thing to do given the circumstances. I thought the PWM signal from the motherboard was not compatible with the fan. Asus does a lot of non-standard things with their motherboards (that's to give more value additions of course), the Fan Xpert feature in this case.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Maximus VII Gene installation experience

In the previous post I mentioned that I got my new board and also about some issues I had while installing it. But I didn’t post any pics, so here are some photos of the entire thing.

Food! The little guy joined the party.

2014-07-21 19.50.12

In the box.

2014-07-21 19.50.30

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My second ROG board is here - Maximus VII Gene

Gene

In the previous post I mentioned that I managed to sell my Maximus VI Hero motherboard that I bought only last year. The reason for selling this was to move to a small form factor PC. This board a was an ATX board.

The board that I bought to replace it was the micro-ATX model of the same series, but with the newer chipset. The newer chipset, the Intel Z97 chipset didn't offer much over its predecessor, the Z87, but since I was buying a new board I didn't feel like going with the older chipset even though it would have saved few bucks. The new board would give me the opportunity to move to Broadwell when it finally comes out. But I doubt I will ever upgrade to Broadwell as it wouldn't bring anything other than power consumption optimisations to the table.

The next question you might throw at me is why I went with a Micro ATX board when there are Mini-ITX options. Simple answer is that I am already set on the case, which is the Silverstone Sugo SG09 or SG10 (the price will decide which one I would settle with), and it is primarily a Micro ATX case. It does support Mini-ITX boards too, but Micro-ATX form factor would give me more options. Besides this case is smaller than most of the Mini-ATX cases such as the Corsair 250D and Bitfenix Prodigy. Of course there are smaller cases but such as the Coolermaster Elite 130 or Fractal Node 304, but the cooling capabilities of these smaller cases are mediocre compared to the one I chose. Besides, the SG09 is only about 20% larger than them.

There is another reason as well. My current case only supporting up to Micro ATX boards. It doesn't support mini-ITX motherboards so I would have to buy the new case altogether and try to sell the old case later on. I didn't want to go that route.

A micro ATX board was the ideal choice all around.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One step closer to the dream - Maximus VI Hero goes out

Auction M6H

Guess what? Someone bid for my Maximus VI Hero board which I exhibited on Rakuten Auctions a while back. That means I can now get a Micro ATX motherboard to go into my potential SFF build.

Sadly, the guy didn't pay for the board until Monday, despite having the bid going through by Saturday night. The auction was supposed to go up to Sunday night but I told him that I was going to terminate the auction early (which I did) but probably he didn't see it. While Monday was also a holiday for us here in Japan, it would have been great of he could confirm the bid on the same day so that I could order a new motherboard and have fun with it on both Sunday and Monday.

Doesn't matter. At least I could get rid of it at a price much higher that what the shops here would have offered me. This means fun times again. Research, research and more research.

A while back I wrote a post about  Micro-ATX motherboards that I was interested in. At that time the ASRock Z97M OC Formula was the best option. The Maximus VII Gene probably is the best board in terms of stability, user-friendliness and quality but it was much more expensive than the ASRock. However, the price gap between the two had shrunken in the last few weeks, hence the Gene was massively overpriced. Still I wanted to save some bucks if I could.

My Silverstone Heligon HE10 cooler is here and it's great!

00_logo

My new CPU cooler - the Silverstone HE01 - arrived on Sunday July 20. It came in a fairly larger box that I anticipated. Despite being a dual tower cooler, it was not supposed to be as large as the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler that I had in my rig a few months ago. That was because it comes with just one fan and the front tower itself was thin.

I quickly took my PC apart. As it wasn't that long ago that I installed the water cooler, I remembered the steps to quickly remove the Antec Kuhler 620 cooler. Then I got down to the real business - installation of the cooler.

There was no time for a photo-shoot. Everything came packed well. There was an instruction manual but it was of very low quality. A lot of instructions and diagrams were omitted from it. But with a little bit of common sense, I could install the cooler just fine. Mounting of the heatsink didn't take that long. It was much easier than the Silver Arrow because the spacing between the two towers was larger due to the 38mm fan that goes in between. Installation of the fan was harder as I installed the cooler with the motherboard plugged in. Like expected, there was no issues with the RAM clearance.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In search for the best CPU cooler

haswell-cooling-1

The best doesn’t necessarily mean that the cooling performance is highest. I’m sure many can design a cooler the performs much better than the ones available for purchase, if the system – case and other components - can be fixed. Like in the case of the Apple’s Trash Can.

Let’s back on the topic shall we? Why am I searching for a new CPU cooler? Because of this and this.

I already have planned on which case to get if I manage to sell this. It’s either the Silverstone SG09 or SG10. They are small and optimized for air cooling. There is only one place you can mount a radiator and that is the rear exhaust. Even then, it is only a 120mm radiator. A lot of high-end air coolers perform much better than the best 120mm AIO water cooling unit. Heck, some even perform better than the dual 120mm units. My current case also is optimized for air cooling and doesn’t support larger than 120mm radiators out of the box.

Now that I had ruled out all of the AIO water cooling units, it was time to check out air coolers available in Japan. I managed to get a rough idea about which models were available in the market. In fact it seemed that all the high-end models were available. The prices were, though,  sky-high on most of them. All except two dual tower coolers were going for more than JPY10,000.

What happened when I reseated the Antec Kuhler 620's water block?

file_9

In the previous post I mentioned that there was a problem with cooling of my new CPU. The Antec Kuhler 620 CPU that I had been using to cool it was not up to the task. The CPU was touching TJ-max kind of core temperature when stress tested using OCCT 4.4.

There was one thing for me to do: reseating of the water block.

I had some free time in the last weekend as the baby went into his regular evening nap, so I went down to business.

Almost all the guides out there recommend that you use a tiny amount of thermal paste in the middle of the heat spreader and let the pressure from of the heatsink mounting mechanism spread and thin the paste. I followed the same guide. But when this method is employed, the spread become a circular area and the edges don’t get proper contact with the heatsink. I thought the thermal issues that I had were caused by this contact issue. I cannot remember if I mentioned this before, but the pressure from the mounting mechanism seemed insufficient. The spread could be better with other heatsinks with better mounting pressure.

My Devil's Canyon chip runs really hot!

2014-05-18 12.39.56[4]

In the previous post I mentioned how I overclocked my new Devil's Canyon chip to 4.6GHz. Going from 4.5GHz to 4.6GHz was difficult and the settings are not even finalized yet. It requires further tuning.

Finding the settings that would make the CPU stable was one thing. Keeping the CPU cool while stress testing was another. My Antec Kuhler 620 was terrible at it. Even at the conservative settings that I used for 4.5GHz overclock, the core temps hit 90C once in a while. Devil's Canyon chips are supposed to run about 8C cooler than the original Haswell. I was stupid not to test the temps with my old CPU before the switch.

Plus, these temps were not observed while running something crazy like Prime 95 v28.5 or Linpack. The stress test that I used was OCCT 4.4. It is not a complete slouch at stressing CPUs as it, I believe, does heat up the CPU more than AIDA64 - the one originally recommended for Haswell. Still, this shouldn’t have happened.

There is no need to emphasise that there is a problem.

Assuming it was inadequate contact between the CPU and the water block, the water block was reseated once, which unfortunately made no difference. However, I'm not so confident in my application of the thermal paste. I felt there was too much paste the last time. This time it could be too little. There is no way to know without examining the foot print of the spread, but that means taking if off again. Time is something I don't have these days.

Before thinking about getting a better cooler, I think I should try reseating it one last time. Like I mentioned earlier, it could be simply my incapability to properly apply thermal paste. If the cooler has gone bad because it wasn't been used for 2 years, then there is no choice but to replace it. It wasn't a great cooler to begin with.

Overclocking my Devil's Canyon Core i7 4790K

2014-07-05 13.29.51

It's Haswell overclocking all over again. In the previous post I mentioned that I was able to boot into Windows at 4.6GHz with just 1.25V for Vcore with my new Devil’s Canyon chip. I ran OCCT for just a minute and felt great about it as it is did not crash. But I indeed did not run long enough. I wanted to see if it can do better.

Next I tried 4.8GHz at 1.25V. Alas, it gave a BSOD while booting Windows up. Sigh! Then I increased the Vcore up to 1.30V and tried. This time it booted into Windows without any drama. But OCCT crashed instantly. Again, sigh! So it definitely is not a super chip.

Then it was time to start overclocking properly. The stress test of my choice was OCCT 4.4. While it is not as hardcore as Prime 95, which at version 28.5 seems to be an impossible stress test to pass without delidding - even with the "Next Generation Polymer" based thermal paste that Intel is claiming which performs much better than the crap that they use with non-Devil's Canyon parts. Since it seems that I would be stuck with this CPU probably until I leave Japan for good, I didn't want to see it degrade. Hence, this time around, I am very conservative with the length of stress tests and how much heat I put it through.

While I know that the CPU must be well capable of at least 4.6GHz, I wanted to start low. I dropped the multiplier to 44x, Vcore to 1.2V, set memory speed to XMP, set Ring voltage to 1.1V and let everything be automatically determined by the motherboard. This set the Uncore multiplier to 40x and Input Voltage to 1.75V. And this deemed stable in OCCT. Good! Now, we have a starting point. It is possible that the CPU didn't need 1.2V for Vcore, but I didn't want to check the absolute best. I only ran OCCT for like an hour.

4.4GHz settings

  • Vcore: 1.20V
  • Ring Voltage: 1.10V
  • Uncore multiplier: 40x (AUTO)
  • Input Voltage: 1.75V (AUTO)
  • Load-Line Calibration: Level 8 = MAX (AUTO)
  • Memory: XMP (2400MHz/11-13-13-35-2T/1.65V)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My 4790K is here and it can boot to desktop at 4.6GHz with 1.25V!

When the doorbell rang in the morning of Saturday, the 5th of July, I knew what I had hoped for had come true. I ordered the Core i7 4790K CPU on the previous evening from Amazon and the CPU arrived before noon. I had already dug up the toolset, the Arctic Cooling MX-5 thermal paste and the box of the old CPU by this time, and was ready to replace the CPU and test it as soon as possible.

But first things first. Photo-shoot!

 
The batch number of this particular CPU is L418C209.
  • L means it is made in Malaysia.

  • 4 means it is made in the year 2014. (You would expect all the Decil's Canyon chips to be made in 2014, but that's not the case. Some of them had been made as early as mid 2013. Seems like Intel had been binning the chips for a year to get to this point.)

  • 18 means it is made in the 14th week.

  • And the rest of it means the lot number.

Then it was time to install the CPU. The top cover and the two side panels of the case were removed quickly. While removing the panel behind the motherboard, a thumbscrew fell into the case and it could not be found ever again!!! It was like finding a needle in the haystack, with all the cables behind the motherboard tray. If I was a little bit more patient, I probably could have found it but I had a brand new CPU right next to me begging to be overclocked!! What did you expect? But I did a quick glance to see if there were any kind of short circuiting.

As the double sided tape that was holding the back-plate of the CPU cooler is no longer present in my Antec Kuhler 620 cooler, I knew that installation of it would be an irritable experience. Thus I tried a new trick this time. Instead of removing the whole mounting cage, I decided to just loosen it and sneak the CPUs in and out. Plus, I decided to leave the radiator mounted on the case while doing all this. The water block could be easily removed but the retention lever of the CPU could not be pulled to take off the CPU as the frame of the mounting cage was blocking its motion. If seemed as if it was impossible to remove the CPU without removing the mounting cage.

Getting ready to welcome the 4790K



Yesterday I ordered my Core i7 4790K CPU. It should arrive within today. Amazon says that they have already shipped the item. Hopefully it will arrive before nightfall. 

In the mean time, I decided to update the firmware of my Maximus VI Hero motherboard. It already had a version of firmware that supported Devil's Canyon CPUs - version 1402. But as it was a beta firmware, and as there was a newer non-beta firmware available - version 1505, there was no reason to stick to what the board currently had.

Updating firmware on Asus boards - even in the year 2014 - is a tedious task. The actual updating process is quite simple. But the CMOS settings will be lost forever with it. If one knew how hard it is to overclock Haswell CPUs, these custom CMOS settings can be invaluable. Hence, they need to be saved somewhere, so that one can get back to those settings after updating the firmware. There indeed is a feature built into Asus UEFI, where the CMOS settings can be saved to a USB flash drive. This feature doesn't really work as expected. Both versions of the firmware - the one original settings are from and the one the old settings are loaded on to - have to be same. This makes it completely useless to an individual. The real purpose of this feature could be to share settings at an overclocking event.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ordered the Devil of a 4790K

Capture

I managed to successfully sell the old Core i7 4770K via Rakuten Auctions. I have a week to send the CPU to its new owner, but before that I had to buy a new 4790K CPU.

I waited for CPU + motherboard combo deals for weeks. Like I mentioned in the earlier post, Sofmap is selling CPU + motherboard combo for with a JPY5000 discount, but they are not selling any motherboard that I want to buy. If I was going to get a motherboard as well, I wanted it to be a Micro ATX motherboard, which is imperative to my PC shrinking project. As there weren’t any appealing online deals, I decide to finally buy just the CPU and ordered the 4790K in the evening from Amazon. I paid extra for the instant delivery - it's a small sum - so that I could get it one Saturday and play with it over the weekend.

I'm still not sure that I would be getting a good chip. If the past is any indication, it would be a crappy overclocker - I would probably get 4.6GHz at 1.3V. It'll be still better than my old chip and probably will run cooler and use less power.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Looks like I’m getting a 4790K after all

side-by-side-back

Remember that I decided to auction my current Core i7 4770K chip on Rakuten auctions? Someone finally bid for it. One guy also asked the price for both the CPU and the motherboard but his offer was too low so I defaulted. But at least, I have managed to sell me CPU – on paper, for the time being.

He bought it for the starting price though – that’s JPY28,000. It’s a shame that nobody bothered to place a bid for it, despite many people adding it to their watch list. I guess they do this so that they get a notification in case the seller – in this case me – drops the starting bid down to attract potential bidders.

The guy hasn’t paid for the CPU yet. He probably will pay for it soon as he has mostly positive ratings. But when will he pay for it? I hope he delays as much as possible. I still haven’t seen any of the CPU + motherboard combo deals other than the ones that Sofmap has posted (the link might be broken by the time you check it out though). But they are selling just the Gigabyte motherboards and even then, none of them are Micro-ATX boards. I want to get a Micro-ATX board. I want it to go into the Silverstone SUGO SG09 or SG10 case eventually. As I still haven’t managed to sell my current case, I would have to keep using this new motherboard for the time being.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Z97 Micro-ATX boards and Wi-Fi support

I’ve been looking at few of the Micro-ATX motherboards based on Intel’s Z97 chipset to go in my future SFF build in the Silverstone Sugo SG10 case, but none of them seems to come with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity. The Mini-ITX boards and the high-end standard ATX boards do. I find this weird.

The boards I had been looking at are:

None of these have Wi-Fi support. Not even the old 802.11n. I cannot believe these companies have ruled out these motherboards as suitable for portable gaming rigs. Maybe that’s why. These are “gaming” oriented boards. No gamer uses Wi-Fi connectivity when playing games. Maybe the manufacturers think that they are not useful either.

But I would have liked to see the option in there. I mean, if the mini-ITX boards have Wi-Fi, I don’t see any reason why the Micro-ATX variants cannot. They have all the real-estate to implement it.

Disappointed, like always!

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